Imagine focusing on something so well that you can control its movement. Now imagine mentally choosing colors and shapes to create an abstract image – a picture of the brain. USF computer scientist Marvin Andujar is using the power of concentration and art to develop a new prototype of the brain-computer interface (BCI) and help study participants use their brains like never before. The aim is to introduce a new treatment option for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by touching directly on their brain activity.
“This type of interaction between the brain and the computer is more of a brain exercise to improve your attention,” Andujar said. “We’re trying to see how we can narrow that focus over time.”
Like Andujar’s previous work with brain-controlled drones, full attention is required. To fly forward, the user must focus on a specific movement, such as walking. People from the ADHD community turned to Andujar after learning how the brain-controlled drone project drew attention and asked for a device they could use at home.
“That’s why we’ve started working on making brain painting a tool where people with ADHD can train their attention while doing something creative,” Andujar said.
Andujar has just completed a two-year pilot study. He and his students collected data from participants, mostly students with ADHD, who need extra help to focus throughout the semester and pass exams. The most common treatment prescribed is Adderall, a drug known to disrupt eating and sleep patterns.
“In the world of technology, with the phone and social media, it’s easy to get distracted,” Andujar said. “The idea of BCI is similar to meditation practices because the mind has to focus.”
Improvements are measured by how long a person can hold his attention without letting his mind wander. With brain painting, users wear BCI and focus on screen options and interact with flashing controls to draw on a blank canvas.
BCIs are path devices that read electrical brain signals to facilitate interaction with external objects, such as a prosthesis or drone. With Andujar BCI’s brain drawing method, participants wear a sensor-lined device and choose from a limited selection of colors, shapes or controls, focusing on one at a time. A flashing light notifies the user when his choice is recognized. This feedback causes a peak of the stimulus in the parietal lobe (the part of the brain responsible for sensory perception and integration) and is detected by sensors. These peaks are then classified by an algorithm and saved to the project hard drive as a user profile.
“Everyone’s brain activity is unique, so each participant must train the system to detect their decision-making. Accuracy and speed improve the more they do,” Andujar said.
Brain painting is a BCI method used for the first time to help patients with ALS create art. Andujar modified this method to implement two versions – a 2D version and a virtual reality (VR) version. In the VR experience, participants can fully immerse themselves in the environment while painting. We hope that this work will also help those who are struggling with mental health.
“Art has been shown to evoke positive emotions, so with the VR version we wonder how concentration and emotion will improve when you’re also immersed in your own painting?” Andujar said.
Andujar has bigger plans for his brain painting project, which includes curating a VR art exhibition to expand his audience and develop the first stages of brain-based irreplaceable tokens (NFT) using preserved images created by artists , drawing brains.
Quote: A new method of drawing the brain that is being tested for the treatment of ADHD (2022, May 20), derived on May 20, 2022 from
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